The intense hurricane season in 2017 was historical not only because of the massive scale and great number of storms, but also how destructive each storm was to the communities. What have supply chain managers and business leaders learned from last year’s hurricanes? Today we will cover how you can prepare your supply chain for the dreaded hurricane season ahead.
Hurricanes and other weather-related challenges can have a direct impact on supply chains. These storms have the ability to shut down airports, cause cargo loss in floods, suspend railway service and halt shipment deliveries, leading to costly supply chain disruptions. Storms including Harvey, Irma and Maria affected every aspect of the logistics industry, all the way from transportation barriers to shipping delays and crop damages.
Making Preparation A Top Priority
From the perspective of a supply chain manager, the reality is that during these terrible hurricanes in 2017, many businesses just simply weren’t prepared for storms of that magnitude. A way businesses could prepare would be to make sure that they are skilled in a structured framework for cross-functional planning, decision making, scenario simulation, and quantitative impacts on plans, also known as Sales & Operation Planning (S&OP). By evaluating the ongoing effects of these storms and implementing risk management best practices, industry experts can apply lessons learned to better prepare for the future.
Preventive Steps for The Future
The “it won’t happen to us” attitude is one of the worst outlooks to have, especially when there is hard data and statistics regarding storm and other weather-related impacts in the past. However, many business leaders and SCM managers still are uncertain about how to take the right steps in order for hurricane season preparation. An effective business continuity plan with a weather-related risk management approach can give supply chain managers the best chances for quick recoveries in case of a disaster. The following aspects could be kept in mind as business continuity focal points:
- Awareness — The first step for prevention is being aware that your business could be at risk for devastating weather impacts. Ask yourself which business aspects, locations, or operations are high-risk areas. Understand your worst-case and what-if scenarios, then formulate a plan for addressing them.
- Alternate plan — Should troublesome weather hit, have an emergency plan in place that includes factors such as alternative routes and plans for production outside facilities in the path of potential disaster.
- Coordination — Coordination between supply chain partners inside and outside your organization is crucial. It’s important to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the disaster recovery plan long before any potential hiccups.
As well as these introductory steps, definitely consider developing a list of additional suppliers, transportation providers, warehousing options, and more to use as a back up plan. With sufficient planning in place, you can also improve your efforts by leveraging technology. Today’s technology can help logistics professionals gain far greater visibility, garnering real-time updates and actionable insights. The right technology will not only show you what is going on at every step within the supply chain but can also help you better predict weather-related problems and give you the tools you need to decide the best next steps — mitigating challenges before they even become a problem.